Every steer comes with two briskets. The brisket is located around the breast region of the animal and is characterized by a tough texture. In addition, these brisket cuts can be further divided into two, smaller subprimal cuts.
Back in culinary school, I had to learn about the anatomy of cow. After becoming a professional chef, I've used that knowledge to make my meat cuts efficient and economic. Today, I’ll break down how many cuts of brisket you can expect from a cow and some other interesting brisket facts.
As a cow has two forelegs, this means that there are two briskets per cow.
A cow has two briskets, each of which can weigh between 12 and 18 pounds. You can cut the brisket into two flat cuts and two point cuts.
The brisket is one of the nine primal cuts of cattle. This cut is located on the cow's breast or lower chest area, slightly below the cow's shoulder, known as the chuck.
The brisket muscles are frequently exercised because they support a significant portion of the animal's weight.
The pectoral muscles are always in use because the animal doesn't have collar bones. So, these muscles bear almost 60% of the steer's weight. As a result, the meat has a tough texture.
Since briskets include many connective tissues, it is important to use the right cooking technique for tender meat.
You'll need to slow cook this tough, raw brisket to unlock the delicious tenderness.
The long cooking process ensures the heat breaks down the tough connective tissue. After the tissue breaks down, you'll have a soft, rich, and delectable piece of flesh.
There has been some debate on which brisket side is more tender. Some studies on how cattle lie show that some steers lie more on their right than their left side. However, this isn't always the case.
Generally speaking, cows frequently switch sides after lying on one side for too long.
The side that the cattle lie on is important because that region will be more likely to receive less exercise than the other side, leading to more intramuscular fat.
However, in my experience, the steer's right side and left side have a similar texture.
Butchers typically cut a brisket into two smaller cuts called the flat and the pointcuts. So, without further ado, let’s discuss more about these two brisket cuts.
The flat cut is a long, rectangular meat cut with substantial marbling on one side. The fat layer keeps the meat moist when you smoke or cook it. The flat makes for a delicious sandwich.
You'll typically find this cut of beef in supermarkets and grocery stores because it's easier to slice and has more meat. The brisket flat typically weighs 6 to 10 pounds.
The brisket point is the second cut of the steer. This cut has an irregular shape with a thick layer of fat on the meat and is cut from a separate section of the brisket.
Depending on the cow's size, this cut can weigh anywhere from 5 to 8 pounds. The high fat renders the point cut to make it perfect for smoking and produce a flavorful, tender cut of meat.
Unsure about the best way to cook this tough meat? Don’t worry. Here, I’ll show you how I do it.
Typically, you’ll get around 30–60% meat yield from the whole brisket carcass you buy from your butcher. So, the brisket yield of a 20-pound whole beef carcass should be around 8 to 12 pounds of usable beef, depending on the cow’s size.
Conclusively, a steer has two briskets, which can be further cut into two subprimals: the flat and the pointcuts. Whole brisket cuts come in different weights and sizes but maintain a similar tough texture.
So, keep this in mind the next time you’re preparing this delectable protein.